Homily January 3rd, 2023

Christmas Weekday – January 3rd – Jn 1:29-34

Today we continue through the Christmas season, and we’re presented with a beautiful text from the first letter of Saint John. It’s a short text, only seven verses, but John touches on one of the most important themes in Catholic theology: that of divine adoption, that God “predestines us to be, no longer simply creatures, but His children. . . .  God adopts us as His children.”[1]

This sounds very nice, but we might have two questions: What does this mean exactly? And, how does it come about?

For the first, we can make a comparison with human adoption. When a couple adopts a child, that child, who is a stranger, becomes a member of the family. He or she takes the family name, receives an inheritance, and takes part in its life. However, this is only possible because both are humans; we don’t adopt dogs or cats like this! So, if this is the case, how can God adopt us? How can this adoption come about?

The answer is: through grace. Grace makes us like God; through grace, we can come to know God as God knows Himself, to love God as He loves Himself, to enjoy and delight in Him as He is perfectly happy and delighted in Himself. Grace is a participation in God’s very life, and through grace God makes us like Himself. In fact, theologians speak sometimes of how grace is deifying, that is, how it makes us like God. All the while we remain humans, but God elevates us and raises us up so that we can be like Him. This is no small gift at all! But this is the gift of Divine adoption! As Saint John says, we’re not simply called children of God: we really are God’s children, with all the rights and privileges that go along with it.

We can ask ourselves: are we really aware of our dignity as children of God? Do we take time to thank God for His many graces, especially that grace that makes us His children?

Through the intercession of Blessed Columba Marimon and Mary, Mother of God, let us pray for the grace to grow in our awareness of and our appreciation for God’s grace and adoption, and for the grace to be worthy sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.

[1] Columba Marmion, Christ, the Life of the Soul (Herefordshrine, England: Gracewing, 2005), 20-21. What follows is either taken from this text or a summary of it.



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